thegrio.com — Moving off of his desired numbers on taxes allowed the president to get billions of dollars in programs for the working poor and unemployed Americans that Republicans would only agree to as part of a larger compromise. The deal includes $30 billion to help Americans who have been unemployed for longer than six months, as well about $120 billion spread over five years to keep in place increased child tax credits for low-income families with children and those paying for college that were in the 2009 stimulus and scheduled to expire. While cuts may come later, there are actually almost no new spending reductions in this agreement. Obama successfully fought a Republican push to include Medicare or Social Security reductions in this deal. Most importantly, almost every Republican senator and more than a third of House Republicans voted to raise taxes.
jaredbernsteinblog.com — Well, I’m glad that’s over. Now that the House has passed the Senate compromise bill, the full spate of tax increases and spending cuts that went into effect yesterday will be shut off (though the sequester was just suspended for a couple of months). Still, I don’t mean to be a downer, but any relief you feel should be analogized to how much better you feel when you stop banging a hammer on your head. We’ve avoided, for the moment, a self-made trap. Now, of course, we’re on to the next one—the debt ceiling, which really is a cliff in that to go over it (can you “go over” a ceiling?) is to default. So, did we learn anything from the episode in reckless governing? Here’s my list, but these are more things we already knew than things we learned.
washingtonpost.com — The question of who “won” the fiscal cliff won’t be answered till we know what happens when Congress reaches the debt ceiling. The White House says that there’ll be no negotiations over the debt ceiling, and that if Republicans want further spending cuts, their only chance is to hand over more tax revenue. Republicans swear they are crazy enough to push the country into default, and they promise that the White House isn’t strong enough to stand by and let it happen. But both Republicans and Democrats can’t be right. If we take the lessons of this negotiation, here’s what will happen.
nytimes.com — A few years back, there was a boom in poker television — shows in which you got to watch the betting and bluffing of expert card players. Since then, however, viewers seem to have lost interest. But I have a suggestion: Instead of featuring poker experts, why not have a show featuring poker incompetents — people who fold when they have a strong hand or don’t know how to quit while they’re ahead? On second thought, that show already exists. It’s called budget negotiations, and it’s now in its second episode.
colorlines.com — Regardless of when the president and Congress decide to end their current budget standoff, it is increasingly clear that the emerging deal will do very little to reverse the fiscal wrongs at the heart of the tax code. These wrongs have transformed America’s economy into the least equitable and most racially unfair it’s been in almost a half century. Our collective denial over the fundamental injustice at the heart of our economic system is a result of white supremacy. The words “white supremacy” are radioactive to be sure. It pains me to write them. However, as a trained economist I go where the facts lead me. Since I have written potentially inflammatory words, let me be clear about what I mean.
washingtonpost.com — Has there been a House speaker in modern American history with less control over his members than John Boehner? A significant number of Boehner’s members clearly don’t trust his strategic instincts, they don’t feel personally bound to support him, they clearly disagree with his belief that tax rates must rise as part of a deal, and they, along with many other Republicans, must be humiliated after the shenanigans on the House floor this evening. Worse, they know that Boehner knows he’ll need Democratic support to get a budget deal done. That means “a cave,” at least from the perspective of the conservative bloc, is certain. That, too, will make a change of leadership appealing. If a conservative spoiler runs, he or she could very possibly deny Boehner the 218 votes he needs to become speaker. It’s hard to say exactly how likely that is. But it’s likelier than it was, say, this morning.
thedailybeast.com — People in our world too frequently fail to take professionals at their words. The modern Republican Party doesn’t believe in raising taxes. Full stop. In fact, as a rule, its members believes that taxes are too high. When they get in power, Republicans try to cut taxes, regardless of the economic or fiscal situation. George W. Bush may have had a failed presidency in many ways, but you can’t deny his success at reducing taxes on income, capital gains, dividends, and estates. When they are out of power Republicans agitate to cut taxes and oppose tax increases. When they run for office, they promise to cut taxes and oppose tax increases. And when confronted with the prospect of massive tax increases that will result from mere inaction, they have proven, thus far, unwilling to take evasive action if it means raising taxes on anybody.
tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com — So what happens now? Boehner has two problems: one with President Obama and another with his conference. And to the extent that he meliorates one he exacerbates the other. He can return to fiscal cliff negotiations with an empowered Obama, and try to eke out the sort of deal he just rejected, then pass it through the House next week, on a bipartisan basis at but a huge risk to his Speakership. That’s the course he told members he’d pursue in the conference meeting Thursday night. And the White House is open to it. It sets up a scenario where Boehner’s old nemesis Nancy Pelosi is suddenly back in the driver’s seat, controlling the votes necessary to pass a deal. But if a last ditch effort fails, or he chooses to rebuff Obama, he’ll set one of two unpredictable chains of events into motion.
robertreich.org — Remarkably, John Boehner couldn’t get enough House Republicans to vote in favor of his proposal to keep the Bush tax cuts in place on the first million dollars of everyone’s income and apply the old Clinton rates only to dollars over and above a million. What? Even Grover Norquist blessed Boehner’s proposal, saying it wasn’t really a tax increase. Even Paul Ryan supported it. What does Boehner’s failure tell us about the modern Republican party? That it has become a party of hypocrisy masquerading as principled ideology. The GOP talks endlessly about the importance of reducing the budget deficit. But it isn’t even willing to raise revenues from the richest three-tenths of one percent of Americans to help with the task. We’re talking about 400,000 people, for crying out loud
robertreich.org — Why is the President back to making premature and unnecessary concessions to Republicans? Two central issues in the 2012 presidential election were whether the Bush tax cuts should be ended for people earning over $250,000, and whether Social Security and Medicare should be protected from future budget cuts. The President said yes to both. Republicans said no. Obama won. It defies logic and fairness to give more tax cuts to the wealthy while cutting benefits for the near-poor. Hands off Social Security. If the Republicans are willing to raise tax rates on high earners but demand more spending cuts in return, the President should offer larger cuts in defense spending and corporate welfare.